Updated: May 15, 2018
Tabbouleh - that heady mix of herbs and sparkling flavours which is such a pillar of Middle Eastern cuisine - has undergone countless re-inventions and here I am using quinoa rather than the traditional cracked wheat to make it gluten-free and to increase its protein profile.
300 ml/1/2 pt/1 ¼ cups water
5 ml/1 tsp bouillon powder
1 large lemon, juiced
150 g/5 oz white quinoa
125 g/4 ½ oz red cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small, ripe mango, peeled and diced
100 g/4 oz frozen petits pois, defrosted
50 g/2 oz red onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Half a pickled lemon, scraped clean and diced – see link
30 ml/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
75 ml/5 tbsp olive oil
10 g/1/3 oz flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
10 g/1/3 oz mint, coarsely chopped
50 g/2 oz toasted, slivered almonds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring the water to the boil in a medium saucepan, stir in the bouillon, 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and 1 tsp of salt. Add the quinoa, cover the pan, turn the heat right down and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff it up with a skewer, cover again and set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes, or as long as is convenient – overnight in the fridge is fine.
In a roomy salad bowl, combine the tomatoes, mango, peas, onions, garlic, molasses and olive oil.
Tip the quinoa into the bowl, grind in some black pepper, and stir it all gently with a fork. Check the seasoning, adding more lemon juice if it is not sharp enough. Fold in the herbs and almonds.
Serve immediately, although it will sit happily for a couple of hours.
And what about this tabbouleh’s nutritional talents? Quinoa, being a seed rather than a grain, is gluten free, high in fibre and anti-oxidant flavonoids; an excellent source of plant-based protein as it contains all 20 amino acids; rich in minerals such as manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, selenium and zinc; and its high vitamin content includes Vitamins A, B6, E and K. Tomatoes are packed with Vitamins A and C, potassium and manganese, as well as the valuable anti-oxidant carotenoid known as lycopene. Mangoes provide Vitamins A, B6, E and K as well as potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium; and they are a good source of the anti-oxidants quercetin, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin which is reputed to protect against macular degeneration. Onions are a natural anti-biotic, high in antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids, anti-inflammatory and include Vitamins B1, B6 and C, and the mineral potassium. Garlic, like onions, is a natural antibiotic, and extensive scientific research has linked it in a supportive role for conditions such as diabetes, hair loss, high blood pressure, dementia, colds and infections. Parsley is antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, diuretic to relieve bloating, beneficial in irritable bowel conditions, high in Vitamins A, C and K and iron, and its essential oils combat halitosis and garlicky breath! And finally, mint has anti-bacterial properties and may be helpful for colds due to its decongesting menthol content, for indigestion, for travel sickness and as a breath freshener.